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It’s all about them words June 25, 2009

Posted by David Gillespie in advertising, business strategy, marketing.
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A few years back I did a consulting gig on a print directory service everyone is familiar with. The project looked at how digital media was changing the landscape they existed in and they were interested in finding out how they could continue to be profitable while these changes happened. In the end the recommendation was to ensure migration from the offline service to the online one, and involved a strategy for doing so. Having delivered the final report however, the response came back stating their print directory represented X-million dollars of revenue so they expected it to still be a thriving business in years to come, regardless of what we had to say.

No prizes for guessing how that turned out.

I was reminded of this when I got home one day last week to see the below in the lobby of the building I’m living in at the moment.

Yellowpages1

Yellowpages2

Now, Yellow Pages wasn’t the company so desperate to display their desire to stick their head into the sand, however they must, at some point, have had someone have a similar conversation with them. Three years ago when I was doing that project I stood in the middle of my agency and asked the entire office who had used a print directory in the last 6 months. Unless I was willing to accept “door stop” as an appropriate use, I had nothing.

It used to be if you weren’t in the Yellow Pages you didn’t have a business. Now it’s a matter of being on Google‘s pages, and you best make sure its the first one. If I was advising a company still advertising in the Yellow Pages, I would tell them to take that spend and invest it in SEO, optimising its site for core competancies and locality.

Understand I don’t think it is a good thing that a once proud business is dying, but few things are more Darwinian than business itself; ignorance should not be rewarded, nor should an inability or unwillingness to change with the times.

And we definitely shouldn’t invest in delaying the inevitable.

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All I wanna do is to thank you June 16, 2009

Posted by David Gillespie in branding, business strategy, conversation, marketing.
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Readers who recall my 5 step marketing mantra will remember point 5 stated the most remarkable thing you can have is exceptional customer service. We’re sadly still in a place where a number of organisations don’t get this, due in large part to the customer service departments being seen as a necessary evil, a cost of doing business. As a result, the people staffing these roles are not empowered to simply solve problems and instead are hamstrung by rules designed to elicit the bare minimum of support; enough to keep the customers at the table but not nearly enough to actually make them happy to be there.

The contrast between the great and the not so great was rammed home for me recently thanks to a lousy experience with one of the world’s largest magazine publishers and one of the world’s smallest cafes. Those who know me know my love for coffee is wholly unbridled, bordering on obsessive. They will also know the outright contempt I hold for the Starbucks of the world, suffice to say North America is not David-friendly when it comes to my dark master.

Reach out and touch somebody

Reach out and touch somebody

Thankfully here in Toronto I have found Balzac’s, an independent coffee house which roasts its own beans and makes, quite simply, the best coffee I’ve had here so far. Having fallen in love with the store-bought goods I began ordering online, and when the first batch showed up, I was greeted with a hand-written card, offering up a 15% off code for my next order and a note about their Facebook application.

Let’s review that people:

  • I already love the product
  • They’re making it cheaper for me to get
  • AND they’re offering me another way to interact with their brand.

Contrast this with Conde Nast, who told me, when my issue of Wired failed to appear (while my co-workers waltzed around with their’s) that I needed to wait 2 weeks before they could fulfill a missing order. Having waited patiently, I contacted them at the appropriate time to be told:

We are sorry to inform you that the issue you requested is no longer available.

To be fair, they then told me my subscription would be extended by an issue, but this is not the point. I understand magazines are having a hard time of it lately.

Can I suggest though the ways to innovate in your business model are not to deprive people of the thing they desire in the interests of saving a couple dollars.

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I hope that someone gets my, I hope that someone gets my… June 15, 2009

Posted by David Gillespie in branding, conversation, storytelling.
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My Gmail inbox was out of control. I had over 1300 unread emails in it. Part of that is due to poor email handling habits on my end, but it’s also due to a lot of people sending me information I don’t want or need.

My Google Reader is also overflowing, but it’s full of content I have asked for, stuff I want and, very occasionally, need. in catching up on my feeds over lunch just now though, I came across the below video from Gary Vaynerchuk.

posted with vodpod

I have a lot of friends working in PR, I hope they watch the video. More than that I hope their clients do too.

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The best around – June 12th, 2009 June 14, 2009

Posted by David Gillespie in advertising, branding, business strategy.
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So this week I tweeted about an agency website which both had me giggling and marveling at its inventiveness. The agency in question, Boone Oakley is leapfrogging the notion an agency needs to have an impressive corporate site with not having a site at all. Instead, they have a video on YouTube which they have taken the time to build specifically for the platform, leveraging it in a way that is custom tailored to the site; it is not only a uniquely digital execution, it adheres to still fringe ideas around the distributed web and making your very presence as distributed as possible.

Plus it is very, very funny, and at 300,000-plus views, I imagine not only a bunch of disgruntled agency employees agree, but a host of disgruntled clients. To the companies out there who for some reason think they can get away witha¬† mediocre presence online and “let the work speak for itself“, think again.

While we’re on the work though, Goodby & Silverstein have a lovely piece up for telco Sprint. It is an execution unique to YouTube as far as I’m aware, following on from the brilliant Wario execution Nintendo had – I imagine this sort of thing will occur more and more as Google attempt to plug the US$500 million hole in the ship that is the world’s most popular video sharing site. Users upload videos of themselves making a number via the ad and then are inserted into the appropriate spot in a banner that takes the idea of a digital clock to a new level. Check it out at BannerBlog.

Last but not the least, the biggest shift online this week is coming courtesy of Facebook. They’re falling inline with most social networks and services and allowing personal URLs to be registered (e.g. http://Facebook.com/DavidNGillespie). This has previously only been open to brands at a cost, the indomitable Gary Vaynerchuk has more:

more about “Gary Vaynerchuk – Why Facebook fan pa…“, posted with vodpod

Take care everybody, and please let me know if you come across something during the week that simply has to be seen.

I’ve got lots of pictures in my head June 10, 2009

Posted by David Gillespie in Uncategorized.
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I don’t know if Sneaky Sound System has blown up in North America yet, but for the readers on this side of the Pacific and that side of the Atlantic, check them out.

Now, just as I got finished talking about brands facilitating experiences I came across this doozy from Canon. This (northern) summer they are setting up free workshops in major US national parks where there will be cameras on hand and pros to help you improve your photography.

Perfect. Simple and perfect, perfect, perfect. I love it.

Set up a camera, let the video run June 10, 2009

Posted by David Gillespie in technology.
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So a couple days back I met with a company called mDialog who came in to share their video serving platform at the house that Jack built. The pitch is fairly straight forward, it is a proprietary platform designed to stream and share video content across the web as well as streaming it to phones on devices that support it. The system also supports pre and post-roll ads, so it adds up to a play in a space I’m a big fan of: experiences facilitated by brands. Planning a new web series? mDialog provides a platform for delivery and monetisation. Their platform is also looped into Double Click, so you can get your hands on some robust reporting either side.

Now, the above is all well and good. My criticism (which I shared with them) is the solution warrants building a new community and driving traffic to an environment which would otherwise lie dormant. The noise to signal ratio of YouTube is immense, but it comes with an existing community which can, when used correctly, deliver a life of its own.

What I feel would be a more interesting move is to have the ability to put clips on YouTube and then integrate the comments from everywhere that clip gets embedded. mDialog have already made a shrewd move in allowing Disqus-style functionality with comments being displayed everywhere a clip gets embedded, taking that one step further would allow the benefits of a ready made and heavily trafficked site like YouTube with the fantastic back-end tools provided under mDialog.

There was another product they shared which I agreed not to talk about yet, but it was, to my mind, much more exciting. They should be launching it sometime around the end of July, I look forward to talking about it then.

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Image courtesy of Thomas Hawk, with thanks to compfight.

Best digital work this week – June 7th, 2009 June 7, 2009

Posted by David Gillespie in advertising, digital strategy, social media, technology, Video Games.
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Hi,

This is an ongoing series I’m doing rounding up the most interesting digital work I’ve come across in the past week. Sometimes it won’t necessarily be new, it’s amazing what can slip under the radar. If you find something you think is worth checking out, please leave me a note in the comments!

Cheers,

David

P.S. This post is best enjoyed with some Motown on in the background and a glass of wine/ice-cold beer.

—-

This week has been somewhat of an odd one, I’ve been fixated on augmented reality (henceforth referred to as “AR”) and have thus been scouring the web in search of the latest and greatest while trying to concoct ways to foist it on clients. Aside from just geeking out over it though, I really think there’s an opportunity to tell some interesting stories in ways that have previously eluded marketers. Mini started off with a cute but ultimately shallow AR spot, I like what Ray Ban have done though, upping the stakes ever so slightly and making sure to use the medium to do something others can’t (THE rule of ANY advertising: what can we do here that our friends in other disciplines can’t?).

As has been called out in other places however, not offering the option to “BUY NOW!” is a wasted opportunity.

In the interests of pushing things forward, I also came across a mad genius Russian raising the interactivity stakes, creating an environment virtual characters could interact with and makign it accessbile from your mobile (if your mobile happens to be a Nokia N95).

And I couldn’t bring this up without of course pointing you in the direction of a video I found and lost a long time ago, bless the Japanese for all they have brought us:

Experiential markteters: take this and run with it. Please.

Now, as I am a big proponent of brands getting more into the facilitation of experiences and services in more of a sponsor sort of way, I was a big fan of this new webservice, Supercook. The premise is simple: punch in the ingredients you have lying around and let Supercook display recipes that match what you already have in the pantry.

Dear Heinz,

Why are you not all over this?

Hugs and kisses,

Gillespie.

Moving on, in a great example of transparency, however cultivated I’m sure it is, I had no idea the Obama White House was running its own Flickr photostream. All companies who sell people-powered service please take note: putting a human face on what you do will always, always bring your customers closer to what you do. Next thing you know there’ll be a Get Satisfaction feedback form on the official White House page.

Adding another section to platform cold war going on right now, a game called Spymaster has launched a closed beta. “What is so special about a game being in closed beta?” I hear you ask. Well, not much, except it has been built on and is to be played using Twitter. Mashable have a great round-up of it, and while this shouldn’t be all that surprising given the myriad of web services already available, it’s interetsing to see people extend Twitter’s platform into a realm of sheer entertainment.

Last but not least, I couldn’t help but share this Brazillian site encouraging people to…errm…urinate while in the shower as opposed to the toilet. I can’t say it’s a practice I’ll be indulging in, and while I risk exposing myself for the hypocrit I am by including this site even amidst the lack of meaningful interaction between the site and its visitors beyond obligatory links out to various social networks, the execution is lovely and put a smile on my face.

Really, what more can we ask than that?

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Standing on the rooftops, shouting out June 4, 2009

Posted by David Gillespie in blogging, branding, conversation, digital strategy, technology, work/life.
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I think I need to start a competition amongst readers to see who can pic the song each post’s title is from. Here’s a hint:

Anyway, your friend and mine Tim is fond of saying “To understand change, you have to be part of it.” Now, he perhaps didn’t come up with that himself, but I am always reminded of him whenever I think of it, which is as good an exercise in branding as you’ll find.

With this in mind, I have spent some time this morning trying to bring my own silos of conversation together. My marketing self tends to exist only on this site, but my musician self is spread across Facebook, MySpace, iLike, YouTube, and God knows where else. Oh, not to mention another website of his own. Now, I do my best to keep my two selves separate, but bear with me for the purposes of this conversation.

It goes without saying that nobody working full time has the means to update all of the above sites, let alone engage the way we all insist we should. On top of that, there’s a requirement for authors who establish these sites to get a little more versed in the nuances of the technology than they’re otherwise compelled (or able) to do. What it means is more time spent tweaking the various underpinnings of a site or service and less time doing the things you started a site for in the first place. Cue frustrated creators and audiences in silos.

David Jones (a person, not the store) is a guy I’ve come across here in Canada. I spotted him tweeting one day “Don’t tell me what you would have done, tell me what you did.” – and that really struck a chord. Talk of best practices is all well and good, but evidence of how you’ve implemented it for yourself and others is much better. For the time being, until the big players in this space decide to make their platforms talk to each other, we all get to take part in a zero-sum race to a dead end.

Now I can understand each platform’s desire to control the artist dashboard, as the eyeballs are currently what gives them value. The reality however is if the smaller players don’t make it easier to pick up syndicated content, they’re going to see a reduction in usage.

I want to make it easy for people to consume my content in whatever manner best suits their existing habits. Turning that into a reality however currently means an ultimately unsustainable adjustment to my own. Something’s gotta give.

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